When Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Mix last year, it was the first of its kind. A phone with a front panel that was all screen, no buttons, no sensors, no ear piece — just display from corner to corner.
Xiaomi called it a concept phone, their vision of what the smartphone of the future looked like. In the succeeding months, rival smartphone brands followed suit, LG with its G6, Samsung’s entire flagship line, up-and-comer Essential with its PH-1, and most likely Apple’s next iPhone also.
Earlier in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled the phone’s successor, the Mi Mix 2 — learning from their concept phone and turning it into a device that everyone can use.
The sequel looks just like a smaller version of the original but with several refinements; now with a 6-inch display (instead of 6.4 inches), rounded corners, and a new 18:9 aspect ratio that makes it narrower and easier to grip. The size adjustment fixes one of our biggest complaints about the first Mix: It was big, unwieldy, and impossible to use comfortably with one hand.
Both phones look like they were cut from the same cloth. In terms of build materials, the Mix 2 has the same aluminum frame and glossy ceramic back. Xiaomi is also shipping a special edition model that’s made from a single block of ceramic. While we imagine this to be very delicate, the white model in particular is stunning. Xiaomi describes it as a “perfect piece of jade from heaven.”
On the phone’s front panel right above the display, Xiaomi added an earpiece, something it took away last year in lieu of technology that sent sound waves through the display. It was a cool feature that didn’t quite match the call quality of actual speakers, so we’re glad to see the traditional earpiece back.
The bottom chin carries the selfie camera. While Xiaomi’s done good by further reducing the size of the chin, bringing the phone close to its its bezel-free promise, the selfie camera is still in the same sore spot.
For best results, we recommend flipping the phone upside down while taking selfies, the camera app will adjust, except on third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
The Mix 2’s back side is pristine with only the main camera and its circular gold accents breaking up the monotony. Beneath the camera is a fingerprint sensor; quick, reliable, and now because of its smaller form factor, easily reachable even with smaller fingers.
The only physical buttons on the device are the volume rocker and power button on its right side. It’s got a dual nano-SIM card tray on the left, with no provisions for expandable memory. You’re stuck with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB built-in storage options. On its bottom are speakers and a USB-C charging port. Also missing is a headphone jack. Xiaomi ships an adapter in the box, but unlike the rest of its phones, it skips on bundled headphones, as well.
As great as the phone looks on the outside, its insides too live up to the leadership role the Mix 2 espouses. The flagship is powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM. In the time we spent with the phone, we found the user interface snappy and responsive. Games ran fine, and multitasking was hiccup-free. The phone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box with Xiaomi’s new MiUI 9 skin.
In the day we used the phone around Beijing, the Mix 2 powered through, not needing a top-up. But we want to put its 3400mAh battery through a more rigorous test for our full review. One thing we can vouch for now are quick top-ups thanks to Quick Charge 3.0 support.
Unlike the dual-camera-touting Mi 6, the Mix 2 only has one main 12-megapixel camera. Performance was pretty standard, apart from a bit of processing lag when taking HDR photos. Photo quality was great across all lighting conditions. Check our gallery below:
You’ll also find that low-light performance has been significantly improved from the Mix to the Mix 2.
Night shots are now very good, thanks in part to the phone’s 4-axis stabilization, which also did a decent job even from a rickety rickshaw (check out our video review for the footage).
Is the Mi Mix 2 your GadgetMatch?
We’ll reserve judgement until we’ve had the time for a full review, but in the limited time we’ve used the phone, it’s safe to say there’s no denying the Mi Mix 2 is a great phone.
What sets the phone apart is its price tag, starting at about CNY 3,299, which comes to around US$ 500. That makes the Mix 2 significantly cheaper than any other bezel-less smartphone from 2017.
On top of that, the phone supports an unprecedented 43 bands, meaning it should theoretically work with the most number of cell networks in the world. The phone was clearly designed to appeal to a broader global market, in keeping with its image of not being just a concept anymore, but a phone for everyone.
I lost 15 pounds with the iWOWNfit i5 Plus
No, I didn’t get abs and that’s not the point
Okay, maybe 15 pounds (6.8kg) is a bit of a stretch, but it’s true that the iWOWNfit i5 Plus has been a handy companion in my bid to lose weight and be a little more fit.
I started this weight loss journey at 195 pounds (88kg) and now I’m at roughly around 180-ish pounds (82kg). It’s not a lot and I’m just about halfway through my target, but the progress I have made is pretty encouraging.
Tracking my steps
I got the iWOWNfit i5 Plus roughly around 8 to 10 weeks ago and that’s when I really started keeping tabs on my activities. Like any fitness wearable worth its salt, it helps you track your steps daily. It also comes with an app so you can see how many steps you’ve averaged over a certain period of time.
I used the first week or so to establish a baseline. I walk to and from work a lot but even then, I only averaged around 4,000 steps a day. To actually slash some fats off of my beautiful body, I needed to do more.
Adding hoop time
The easy solution was to run, right? Not for me. I hate it. I think it’s absolutely the most boring activity ever, so I had to find something that would force more movement out of me, but it had to be something I enjoyed. I turned to basketball.
I have always believed that the key to pursuing anything is that you have to truly enjoy it. Even on days when you feel like you hate it, deep down you know you love what you’re doing, so no matter how tough, you’ll power through. That’s exactly what basketball is to me. While the feeling isn’t exactly mutual just like many of my romantic pursuits, I stuck with basketball and continue to play because I truly enjoy it and it has helped produce results.
It’s also pretty handy that basketball is one of the activities that the iWOWNfit i5 Plus can track. If basketball’s not for you, it does track other activities like training, cycling, swimming, and many others.
To reach the weight goal I set for myself, I needed to average around 10,500 steps daily. Once I found this out, I tried playing ball as much as I could. Some days I get to actually play against some guys, but most of the time, I’m by myself so I built a routine that would push me to 10,000 steps or so.
Trust the process
On days that I do play actual games, I push close to 18,000 steps which is way over my requirement. Seeing that you can exceed your daily goals provides you with a lot of motivation to push further.
On days that I don’t get to play, I see to it that I walk a few extra blocks before actually going home just to make sure I hit my daily goal. More than anything, this is the biggest help that I got from the iWOWNfit i5 Plus. While I’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, putting a number on my daily target made me more aware and helped make sure that I was progressing.
If you’re wondering if I changed my diet, I didn’t. At least, not drastically. I still eat a lot of fast food junk but I did lower the portions. The keys to me losing my first set of 15 pounds was more because I knew the number I had to hit daily and I chose an activity I can sustain.
Just the beginning
The iWOWNfit i5 Plus, which you can get from Amazon for US$ 19, does a few other things too. It functions as a watch, can monitor your heart rate, shows your text messages, and through the app, set an alert that makes it vibrate to let you know that it’s time to get moving.
As I mentioned earlier, this journey doesn’t end here. My next step is probably being more mindful about what I eat. Maybe we’ll have some gadget or app that can help me with that.
If you’re wondering why there aren’t any before and after photos here, that’s because I didn’t really take any. I was skeptical about my own discipline but having something to help me track my progress was a big plus.
I’ll leave you with this full body shot. I’m still pretty chunky but I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish so far. If I get the chance to try a different fitness band, maybe I’ll take a similar photo and we’ll see then if there’s any improvement.
OPPO F7 hands-on: A stylish selfie phone
From AI selfies to a stylish design
The successor of OPPO’s main offering is finally in our hands.
The F5 from last year introduced the advantages of artificial intelligence when it comes to taking selfies and 18:9 displays on midrange OPPO phones. As expected, their latest device uses the foundations of the F5 and takes forward steps to make it a worthy successor.
Here’s our hands-on with the OPPO F7.
Let’s start with the display. OPPO calls the 6.23-inch 19:9 display “Super Full Screen” and it’s a major upgrade from the F5. The panel still has a Full HD+ resolution, but the bezels are now slimmer.
In order to achieve this though, OPPO resorted to having a notch that houses the selfie camera, a couple of sensors, and an earpiece. In return, you get an immersive display similar to the iPhone X’s. OPPO claims to have an 88 percent screen-to-body ratio.
Speaking of the body, the F7 sports a new design that I find more appealing than its predecessor. The F5’s matte metallic-looking finish on its unibody back made the phone look utilitarian, with the exclusion of the red model, of course. OPPO redesigned the look and feel of their new F series release by giving it a glossy finish.
The F7 has an acrylic back and new color options. I have the Moonlight Silver here, and if you look closely, there’s a pattern beneath the acrylic that interplays with light.
The OPPO F7 feels more squarish in hand with its sharp edges; gone are the curves! Don’t fret, the chrome-like frame of the phone adds comfort when handling, although I find it to be a bit slippery.
The physical buttons on the F7 are found on both sides: the power/lock button on the right and the volume rocker on the left. The buttons have the same feel as the frame with its chrome-like coating but they’re tactile and responsive.
On top of the phone is the noise-canceling microphone while the bottom side has the loudspeaker, micro-USB port, primary microphone, and 3.5mm audio port.
Specs-wise, the F7 has performance upgrades including the latest MediaTek Helio P60 processor. The new Helio P60 brings in the Mali-G72 MP3 graphics which should please the mobile gaming enthusiasts. 4GB memory will be able to handle multitasking well and 64GB of internal storage is more than enough to store big apps and files. If that ain’t enough, the dedicated microSD card slot is ready to add up to 256GB of storage.
The F7 runs the latest Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with the newest ColorOS 5.0. The UI is still pretty much like iOS but there are some tweaks made to accommodate the display notch. For instance, the control panel is now accessed by swiping down from the top instead at the bottom and there are new swipe-up gesture layouts for UI navigation. The icons are also updated but the rest of ColorOS 5.0 is pretty much the same.
Let’s now dive into the cameras. As a selfie phone, the F7 now has a whopping 25-megapixel front-facing camera with a bright f/2.0 lens — that’s 5 megapixels more than its predecessor. The upgraded selfie sensor is complemented by an updated camera launcher to complete the deal.
As expected, the F7 with its AI Beauty Technology 2.0 can capture great selfies. AI-powered selfies is a step up from your typical photo filters. It recognizes and learns your facial features as you take more photos.
Here’s a sample I took with and without the beauty mode:
And here are more AI Beauty Mode samples with the GadgetMatch team:
There are also new AR Stickers available right in the camera app which add cuteness to your selfies.
As for the rear camera, it’s a 16-megapixel f/1.8 shooter paired with a single LED flash. No dual camera setup for the F series for now, unlike its R series cousin. AI is also embedded in the rear camera which aids in scene recognition. It can identify 16 different scenes and objects in real-time. I’ll try this out in the coming days and will update with more photo samples using the rear camera.
Before we wrap things up, let’s not forget about the non-removable 3400mAh battery and the speedy fingerprint scanner positioned at the back of the phone. Face unlock is also available and it works like a charm, even in dim-lighted environments. How secure is it? We’ll find out more as we spend more time with the F7.
The OPPO F7 is already available in India for INR 21,990 (US$ 340), while in the Philippines it’ll retail for PhP 17,990 (US$ 345). Pre-orders start on April 12 and will be available in stores on April 21.
OPPO R15 Pro hands-on review
Is this new release worth it?
OPPO R15 is the Chinese company’s latest flagship smartphone. It comes in two variants: the regular R15 that runs on a MediaTek Helio P60 and the more premium Dream Mirror edition, officially the R15 Pro.
OPPO also upgraded the cameras on the R15 and R15 Pro with AI. How good are they? Should you upgrade? We’ll answer those questions in this video.
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